JS Bach’s forebears – Day 4, Concert at Wigmore Hall (24 September)

And so to Wigmore Street. Since Cambridge’s show ran without a hitch, our afternoon rehearsal is more of an Akustikprobe than anything else. And what an Akustik– I’ve been to plenty of recitals at Wigmore Hall but never realised just what the performers were enjoying on stage. It takes and carries almost eerily. So that explains why so many song recitalists end up crooning here – you could practically surf this resonance. We down tools with a good two hours to go before blast-off, and everyone heads their various ways to get dinner. The Golden Hind on Marylebone Lane for me – a good, if not good-enough-for-what-they-charge, fish and chip shop just opposite L’Entrecôte, which is where I’ll be eating just as soon as my signed photo (together with marker-penned obsequies: “To my dear Wiggy, the best little big little concert hall in the whole wide wigworld. Kisses.”) is up there on the dressing-room wall next to Joan Rodgers’s’s’s’.

The mood’s lively tonight. William Carter (theorbo) comes in to the dressing room in the interval telling us that a punter has accosted him and enquired whether his instrument is Chinese. “No”, replies Bill. “It looks very much like an instrument I saw in China”, insists the punter mysteriously. Stephen Farr (organ) is tickled by another audience-member’s supposition that he and Richard are brothers. Joseph Crouch (cello) is perplexed by my account of the rehearsals on Days 1 and 2. “They sound really fun”, he says. “Was I there? Next time I think I’ll skip rehearsals and just read the blog instead.” All this punctuated at intervals by Richard’s utterances of various German words which tickle his fancy. “Wankelmut” in particular. We begin work on a new English translation of Meine Freundin, du bist schön and get as far as “My girlfriend, you are fit” before the usher spoils everything by reminding us to get on with the second half.

Demob happy we are perhaps, but there’s still so much to enjoy, and the acoustic is helping certain elements to prominence tonight: the glorious viola lines in Die Furcht des Herren, for example, really sing through under the Wigmore arch – no less than Rachel Byrt and William Thorp deserve for all the hard subviolinian work they’ve accomplished this week whilst Pavlo Besnosiuk and Rebecca Livermore have been having all the high-profile fun on the fast stuff up top. And that same arch gives a good acoustic boost to soprano Charmian Bedford’s low G – not the kind of note a girl usually finds herself obliged to sing in public on a Friday night, but one she’s required to crank out in Die Furcht.  Cranking and grinding everywhere in the finale of My Girlfriend, you are fit, Richard goading as much as he can out of us in that drinking chorus, it’s not so much S.D.G. as O.M.G. It’s over before we know it, and the audience are loud in their appreciation. It’s great to see that a programme of more or less obscure music can draw such an enthusiastic response – and we’re all delighted that the Wigmore crowd call us on for an encore bow. It all bodes extremely well for the success of this season devoted to the Bach dynasty, which continues in a month’s time at Cadogan Hall with a concert of all six Brandenburg Concertos. According to one extremely enthusiastic reviewer of A.A.M.’s account of these pieces for their record label harmonia mundi usa, you’re in for playing that’s “wild, outdoorsy, jazzy, almost bebop.” Book A.S.A.P. for more O.M.G. with A.A.M. Thanks for reading.

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